RathwellJ-141018-4153 copy

Photo by John Rathwell

Moosefest 2014 was lining up for perfect race levels and unseasonably warm temperatures with locals reporting of “Moose laps in a shorty” and tempting all with sunny photos. Then it rained.

The gauges shot straight up, with the Moose peaking just under seven feet, twice the optimal flow for the Adirondack river’s Class IV-V Bottom section. While some of the elite racers (and some who were simply overly bold) picked off a handful of rapids on their way down the Bottom, the majority of paddlers found consolation in the many other rivers in the area. The Independence River, Otter Creek, and Woodhull Creek were popular choices, while those willing to put in some extra driving hours were rewarded with the big drops on the Grass River.

Whitewater King of New York organizer Kenny Unser, looking at the final of four races in the Empire State point series, decided to move the race course. Unser relocated it from the last half of the Bottom Moose to the first two rapids of the Lower section, successfully avoiding the debacle of 2011, where race results show first place going to the river itself after causing over seven ER visits throughout the weekend.

“Changing the race course was an easy call this year, the Bottom was just too high,” Unser says. “The new course had the added benefit of leveling the playing field for those unfamiliar with the usual lines.”

Participants paddle away from Double Drop at MooseFest in Old Forge N.Y. on Oct. 18. Photo by John Rathwell

Participant paddle away from Double Drop at MooseFest in Old Forge N.Y. on Oct. 18. Photo by John Rathwell

The adapted course began above Class III-plus Iron Bridge and ended three quarters of a mile downriver, below the large holes and crashing waves of Class IV Tannery. Pat Keller‘s victory revealed a fast recovery from his shoulder injury this summer and promises excitement at the upcoming Green Race, but his lack of participation in previous KONY events left D.C. local Geoff Calhoun with the series title. Meanwhile Erin Savage and Margaret Williams split the title on the women’s side.

Unser adds, “It was great to see Pat back in the game, and we were really happy to see a solid female class making an appearance.”

RathwellJ-141018-7925 copy

Photo by John Rathwell

In addition to the usual festivities, local businesses and paddlesports companies teamed up to host a scavenger hunt, with over $1,000 in prizes. While some of the objectives favored Class V paddlers, the majority of them were within reach of just about any festival attendee: selfies with bartenders, donations to American Whitewater, and a particularly risqué photo from the village swimming platform which proved to be vital toward victory.

All in all, Moosefest lived up to its wild reputation as the last big paddling event the year for Northeast paddlers.

Clockwise from top left, an unknown participant shows off his "moose face" at MooseFest this weekend in Old Forge, New York, along with Thea Froehlich, Matt Hamilton , Annie Valade, unknown, Justin Bouwman, unknown, and Travis Comeau. Photos by John Rathwell.

Clockwise from top left, an unknown participant shows off his “moose face” at MooseFest this weekend in Old Forge, New York, along with Thea Froehlich, Matt Hamilton, Annie Valade, unknown, Justin Bouwman, unknown, and Travis Comeau. Photos by John Rathwell.

Click to see full men’s and women’s results from the 2014 KONY series.

— Click to read about the KONY series previous races on the Beaver, Raquette, and Black rivers.